Thursday, February 11, 2010
When I was a kid, maybe around five, six or seven years old, my mother used to tell me to 'Stop that crap!' when I misbehaved or said something incredibly heinous. This was the first 'bad word' I can remember myself being exposed to, and since I had the vocabulary of a seven-year-old, I took the word 'crap' and associated it quickly to the most accessible word that sounded the most similar - 'crab'. I literally, for a couple of years, thought my mother was telling me to 'Stop that crab!', thinking it was a combination of her non-native accent that interchanged the 'p' and the 'b' sounds, and that crabs had notoriously demonstrated naughtiness in some ancient Chinese folktale.
See, the word 'crap' isn't so bad, right? I haven't offended anybody, have I? (Actually, seriously, have I?)
Often, it can be awkward though when you're cussing, especially when you're on Facebook or on these blogs and you know your family or your teachers are following. But why does it have to be awkward? I mean, words like 'cock', 'bitch', 'boob', and 'ass' can all mean things unprofane, and don't forget the name 'Dick'.
I think that it is right to discourage children from using these words, as they don't know the implications of them... however, I don't see what the big deal is when we're older, so long as we don't use them maliciously, or lazily without other words at our perusal to express our vehemence, joy, pain or surprise. I guess often these words are used derogatively, profanely, in a socially disrespectful manner, but it just irks me slightly because they're only words, sticks and stones...
What do you think? What makes a word into a ‘bad’ word? How bad is too bad when it comes to normal, everyday conversation? Does it depend on who you're talking with? Where do we draw the line when writing in a public space, such as your blog?